NEW YORK: Mel Reid fired an eagle and three birdies in a five-under par 66 on Saturday to seize a one-shot lead going into the final round of the LPGA ShopRite Classic.
England’s Reid, who was one off the pace heading into the round, had 15-under par total at the Seaview resort in Galloway New Jersey, and was one in front of Americans Jennifer Song and Jennifer Kupcho, who both shot 65.
It’s the second straight event that Reid, a six-time winner on the Ladies European Tour, has held the 54-hole lead in search of a first LPGA Tour title.
She was two-up through three rounds in Portland but finished tied for fifth in a tournament won by compatriot Georgia Hall in a play-off.
“Another great opportunity this week to get it done,” Reid said. “Tomorrow I’m going to take my time a little bit more, and hopefully it will make a bit of a difference.”
Reid put herself in position again with a quick start at Seaview, where she birdied the first and third.
She was on the green in two at the par-five ninth and two-putted for birdie and a birdie at the 10th put her alone atop the leaderboard.
“I knew it was always in me to do this,” Reid said. “I wasn’t sure how to get there. It has just taken me a lot more years than I expected it to.”
Kupcho and Song both birdied the par-five 18th to close the gap. Kupcho’s four-foot birdie attempt wobbled a bit but dropped in the right side as she capped a bogey-free round.
The 23-year-old had drained a dazzling birdie putt at the 13th, her effort from the tier above the pin breaking wide and curling back towards the hole, finally dropping in the back side of the cup.
“It was just curling and it just back-doored in,” Kupcho said.
Song also played without a bogey, grabbing three birdies on each side for her share of second.
With her lead down to one as she arrived at 18, Reid missed the fairway and her approach from the rough flew high and through the green, leaving her a tough downhill chip. She left a birdie putt short but still walked off with a slender advantage.
Overnight leader Nasa Hataoka of Japan was alone in fourth after a one-under par 70 for 201.
Hataoka was even for the day after two bogeys and two birdies through 16 holes. She missed the green at the par-three 17th but produced a great par-saving putt and gave herself a closing boost with a birdie from a bunker at the last. — AFP
LPGA ShopRite Classic scores
Third round (par 71, USA unless noted):
198 — Mel Reid (ENG) 68-64-66
199 — Jennifer Song 65-69-65, Jennifer Kupcho 69-65-65
201 — Nasa Hataoka (JPN) 64-67-70
202 — Kelly Tan (MAS) 68-69-65, Ryann O’Toole 64-71-67
203 — Brooke Henderson (CAN) 68-70-65
204 — Lin Xiyu (CHN) 70-69-65, Brittany Altomare 66-71-67, Ally McDonald 69-67-68, Anne van Dam (NED) 67-68-69, Georgia Hall (ENG) 67-67-70, Lee Mi-hyang (KOR) 63-69-72
205 — Jodi Ewart Shadoff (ENG) 68-69-68, Moriya Jutanugarn (THA) 67-70-68, Katherine Kirk (AUS) 66-69-70
206 — Megan Khang 69-70-67, Nelly Korda 68-70-68, Sophia Popov (GER) 69-68-69, Christina Kim 69-65-72, Amy Olson 67-66-73